A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cranberry Orange Relish

I made cranberry orange relish today, just like every Thanksgiving. It's the earliest thing I can remember cooking — grinding the oranges and cranberries with Russell, the hand grinder clamped on a chair covered in newspaper.

The recipe is unimportant; I basically use what's on the back of the Ocean Spray bag — one orange, one bag of cranberries, and between a half-cup and 3/4 cup of sugar. No cinnamon or any of the other fussy stuff.

What's absolutely critical is the hand grinder. I tried it once in the food processor and it was mushy. I tried it once with the meat grinder attachment on my Kitchen Aid and it was...OK. But the hand grinder is perfect.

I think it has something to do with this:
All that juice runs off during the grinding process, and I use it to make drinks. It's not sticking around mingling with the sugar, making things mushy.

Here was my setup today.
 I use the middle grind size.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Still Baking Bread

I was nominated to bring bread to a potluck last week, so I contributed two loaves.   The back loaf is my regular whole wheat bread, which I posted about back in 2008.  The front loaf is a version of the no-knead artisan bread which has been making the rounds for years.  Jack sent me a recipe for it recently, and I tried it with 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup white flour, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons gluten flour.  It was very good, and was by far the favorite of the dinner guests.

Today I'm making it with all whole wheat flour, and a little more gluten. It's looking good so far.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Chicken and Vegetable Tagine

I really get a kick out of finding a great recipe in a newspaper or magazine.  It's like a treasure hunt, or a needle-in-a-haystack hunt, to be more precise, since there's so much dross to sort through before discovering a gem.

Back in November of 2006 I posted a link to this recipe from Parade magazine, but when Mary Ellen asked for it yesterday I saw that the link had expired.  So here's my version.  You can cook this ahead and reheat it, making it a very good thing to serve to company.

Chicken and Vegetable Tagine

6 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups slivered onions
6 large cloves of garlic, minced

Heat half of the olive oil in  large skillet or pot.  Saute the onions and garlic for 10-15 minutes, stirring, until softened.

1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Pepper to taste

Stir in the spices and cook for another minute.  Than add:

1 1-pound can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes and then stir in

4 large chicken thighs, cut into two or three pieces each

Make sure the chicken is covered with sauce.  Simmer, partly covered, for about fifty minutes, turning the chicken pieces over halfway through.

1 large eggplant

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the eggplant, peeled if desired, into 1-inch cubes.  Toss with remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a shallow baking pan.  Roast for about 25 minutes until tender and golden, turning once or twice.  Remove from oven and set aside.

When chicken is tender, add the eggplant.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes to blend flavors, then serve topped with:

Chopped parsley or cilantro
1/3 cup slivered blanched almonds

Friday, October 31, 2014

Pear Chutney

This recipe is really just a list of suggested ingredients and could be used for other fruits as well: peaches, plums, etc.

Pear Chutney

2 pounds pears, sliced (I didn't peel them, too lazy)
1/2 cup raisins, or chopped prunes
1/2 chopped lemon
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger, or 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
A few cloves
1 clove minced garlic
A minced jalapeno or two, or some crushed red pepper, if desired

1 scant teaspoon salt
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar

I made my most recent batch in the pressure cooker:  first I cooked the pears with 1/4 cup of water under pressure for a few minutes, because they were so hard, but if the pears were ripe I would skip that step. Usually I just cook everything except the salt, vinegar, and sugar until tender, then add those things and boil down gently until thick and jam-like.  It usually takes about a half hour or so.  I poured the chutney into four half-pint jars and put them in the freezer.

Shrimp Salad

I had a nice lunch planned for John and Kathy today featuring my favorite avocado stuffed with shrimp, but woke up in the middle of the night and remembered that John didn't eat avocado.  I improvised this shrimp salad this morning.  The final menu was curried shrimp salad, white bean salad, homemade bread, plum chutney, and apple crisp with pumpkin ice cream.

Curried Shrimp Salad

1 pound boiled shrimp, some left whole and some chopped coarsely
1 cup chopped cashews
1 cup finely diced celery
3 green onions

3/4 cup mayonnaise 
Juice and zest of one lime
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Several dashes hot pepper sauce
1-2 teaspoons curry powder
Salt and pepper

Monday, September 1, 2014

Artichoke Dip

I got a request for this recipe, which I've been making for thirty years.  It is still a very satisfying appetizer.  I think I cut down on the mayo a bit.  I don't know what newspaper this is from, but possibly the Hilo Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

Hot Artichoke Dip

1 8-ounce can artichokes packed in water, drained and chopped
1 7-ounce can chopped green chiles (I use fresh)
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup mayonnaise

Mix everything together and put in an oven-proof baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Let sit for 10 or 15 minutes before serving with crackers.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Kale Salad

I really love this salad, although looking at the recipe it doesn't seem quite right:  Mayonnaise dressing?
Somehow it's perfect, anyway.  I have a little left over for lunch and I'm trying to figure out how to get it all for myself and not share with Dad.  It's from the Arizona Daily Star.  I'm putting a link to the whole article here, but it may not work for non-subscribers.

I substituted cotija cheese for the manchego.  We always have cotija around and it's really useful for a garnish.  It's sharp, salty, and crumbly, but not too assertive.

Also, I massaged the kale pieces with 1 teaspoon salt first to break up some of the tough fibers.  I rinsed it and dried it before proceeding with the recipe.

Kale Salad

Serves: 6
For the dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the salad:
  • 1 large bunch (about 1 pound) Tuscan kale, stems torn or cut out, leaves torn into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, julienned
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 ounces manchego cheese, grated
  • 1 Pink Lady apple, cored and cut into thin half moons
  • Ground black pepper
To make the dressing, in a large bowl whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, mayonnaise, sugar and salt. Add the kale and toss to coat well, then set aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, toss again to coat well.
Sprinkle the apricots, pumpkin seeds and cheese over the dressed kale. Toss again to evenly distribute. Season with pepper and additional salt, if needed. Fan thin slices of apple over the top of the salad and serve.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


So far, my only pregnancy craving is chewy homemade cookies. Which is basically a completely rational regular-person craving, so I'm not sure it counts.

I made the snickerdoodles pictured here today because Will likes snickerdoodles and I'd never made any. They're pretty good. I made some tasty, very classic lemon bars last weekend. I made some cornmeal-lemon cookies. But the best cookie I've made recently is a very simple chocolate chip cookie.

The New York Times Magazine ran a story back in 2006 with different recipes for three different styles of chocolate chip cookies: thin and crisp; flat and chewy; and thick and gooey. The flat and chewy recipe is pretty good -- with several modifications.

I'm not really a fan of the underbaked-cookie thing that's so popular recently -- I like cookies that are caramelized and tan and a tiny bit crispy on the bottoms. But I like them to be chewy at the same time. Never cakey. Not too chocolatey. This recipe hits all the right points. It also has kosher salt and lots of vanilla extract, both of which give it a fancy bakery edge. The whole wheat flour is optional, of course, but I like how it darkens the dough.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 and 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 T kosher salt

8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
1 and 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 T vanilla extract

1 bag (2 scant cups) chocolate chunks

Whisk together dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugar in a mixer, then beat in egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients until just combined, then chocolate.

Chill dough at least 1 hour. Drop onto cookie sheets. Bake at 325 for 15-ish minutes.

Note: this recipe makes a lot of cookies, especially if you make them pretty small, which I do. I froze half the dough and defrosted it the next week; tasted even better.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Agave Syrup

 I have to thank Russell and Brittany for helping me understand agave syrup.  I knew it was around, and had even had drinks made with it, but its most important attribute hadn't really sunk in:  It is liquid at room temperature.  So, unlike honey and sugar, you can stir it into your salad dressing or whatever and it will blend right in--no crystals to dissolve, no thick, sluggish honey to coax into combining.

I found this quite perfect miso dressing on a blog called Savory Sweet Life.

Sesame Ginger Miso Dressing

1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive or canola oil
1 tablespoon agave syrup (or sugar)
1 tablespoon miso paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1" piece of ginger, peeled
1 clove garlic, peeled

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth and creamy.  Store in refrigerator.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cilantro Pesto

Every once in a while one ends up with too much cilantro--a plant in the garden that's about to bolt, or several bunches in the refrigerator that didn't get used up as planned.  I have a couple of solutions to this problem:  the first is to make Aida Gabaldon's  Green Green Sauce, which I wrote about here; the second is to make cilantro pesto.  I tried out this recipe from Simply Scratch a few months ago and it was delicious, but I waited to write about it until I could see how it held up after being frozen.  I'm happy to report that when thawed it was jewel-bright, fragrant, and delicious.

Cilantro Pesto

1/2 cup blanched, slivered almonds, lightly toasted
2 bunches fresh cilantro, stems removed
3 tablespoons cotija or Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lime

In food processor, pulse almonds until finely chopped.  Add cilantro, cheese, garlic, salt, and lime juice and pulse until you have a coarse paste.

1/2 cup olive oil

With food processor running, slowly drizzle in olive until well mixed.  Store in refrigerator or freezer.
We ate this as an appetizer with pita chips, and also as a topping for broiled fish.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Is This Bacon?

This was today's breakfast.  When I pulled out the bacon, I found that I had bought "reduced-sodium" by mistake:  well, excuse me, but the whole point  of bacon is the salt and fat!  I pouted and cursed myself for a minute, but then I went ahead and cooked it and it wasn't too bad.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Korean Pancake

Over the past year, I've been trying to perfect my own home version of pajeon, the big pancakes one often sees on appetizer menus at Korean restaurants. Some versions have green onions; some have kimchi; some have squid and shrimp.

I bought some Korean pancake mix at the Hyundai Market, hoping that would make things just right. It's a powder -- just add water. I worked my way through the small bag, trying various mixtures and additions, but the resulting pancakes never fluffed up properly.

I also struggled to find the right pan. The pancakes were too big to flip neatly; I'd always make a huge mess of orange batter.

So I switched things up quite a bit, drawing from the Dutch baby method to come up with this recipe. It's eggier than some versions, and it contains only wheat flour, no rice flour. I often make it for a solo dinner.

When I made a version of this out in Arizona, I left out the kimchi, because we were using Russell's amazing homemade kimchi as a condiment. And I used Dad's tender carrots, so I cut them in bigger slices. The nice big pan made it quite thin and fast-cooking. It was part of a lovely family meal: Will made spicy pork and we ate it with Dad's lettuces, some rice, and more things I can't remember. The reason I can't remember is probably that it was preceded by Manhattans made by Russell using his homemade maraschino cherries.

Eva's Korean Pancake

Beat lightly:
2 eggs

Add and mix:
dash sesame oil
2 pinches salt
1/2 cup white flour
some kimchi juice from the jar
enough water to make a thin batter

Toss batter with:
1 carrot, peeled and grated or julienned
2-3 green onions, cut into 1- or 2-inch lengths
some solids from the kimchi jar

Preheat oven to 425.

Heat peanut oil on medium-high in a nonstick, oven-safe pan or a cast iron skillet. Tong the batter-coated vegetables out of the bowl into the pan, distributing them evenly. Pour the rest of the batter over the top. Turn heat down to medium and cook, without stirring, for a few minutes. Transfer to oven and cook for 12-20 minutes, until lightly browned in patches.

Serve with thin dipping sauce made from:

spoonful of sambal
wine or rice vinegar
soy sauce
sesame oil

Cut into squares using pizza cutter or knife.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Grilled Chicken a la Rubber Mallet

We had grilled chicken like this in Portugal, and yesterday Dad and Russell recreated it.

1 medium broiling chicken (3 to 4 pounds), split in half through the breastbone
Red chile flakes
Several cloves of garlic
Juice of one lemon
1 rubber mallet

Pound the chicken with salt, chile flakes, and garlic to flatten slightly, in order to make each half more or less an even thickness.  Squeeze the lemon juice over all and let sit for an hour or so.

Grill indirectly over a hot charcoal and mesquite fire (that is, put a drip pan in the middle and push the hot coals to the side before putting on the chicken) and grill, covered, for one hour, turning every 15 minutes.   Let rest ten minutes or more before serving.